Cultivating Fish: A Success Story
Asma Anjuman Khan Tuly and Aminul Islam
Many women have demonstrated that with the devotion and sincerity they bring to their jobs, as earners, they are not lagging far behind. Satu Deo, a young, unmarried girl from a remote village of Phulpur Upazilla has achieved acclaim not only in her own village but also in the adjacent villages for her acumen in the cultivation of fish. She has even attracted a bit of media attention for what she has done in three years.
Born at Mymensingh town and the daughter of Advocate Badal Chandra Deo and Shima Deo, Satu Deo got started in this business in a pond in 2003 at her village home in Galagaon. Her father supported her with an initial investment of taka 40 thousand. In her first year she made a profit of taka 20 thousand and so she was encouraged to go on with the enterprise.
“At first I was unsure as to whether I would be able to prove myself successful in this sector but the first year's profit gave me much encouragement and I gradually became more and more serious about this which has brought me to my present position”, said a very happy Satu Deo. Now Satu, at age 22, is the owner of six ponds. This last season alone, she made a profit of taka three lakh selling her product. Satu is interested in indigenous varieties of fish. She cultivates various country fishes like Koi, Shingi, Catfish, Ruhi, Tilapia and Sharputi. She has the best reputation, however, for her variety Shingi, one of the most popular of all local varieties. Having started a hatchery this year, she is overseeing the hatching of Thai Koi and local varieties of catfish. “My goal is to hatch 20 to 25 lakh eggs this year in my hatchery” she said. “This is the first initiative of its kind by a woman in this district,” she added.
With a goal of making herself self-reliant after having her education discontinued in 2001, Satu was determined to take up a challenging career with support from her parents. Later, she underwent training on fish culture from the Jubo Unnayan Directorate in Mymensingh town and Phulpur Upazilla Fisheries Office in Phulpur. Satu told us, “The fish have changed my life giving me not just financial gain but also respect in society. It has been possible due to my devoted, systematic hard work.” She expressed deep gratitude to her loving father, an advocate in the Mymensingh Judge Court: “If my loving father did not cooperate with my activities fully, it would not be possible for me to reach such a position. Most families in this country would not let their girls go into this line of business.”
Defying the prevailing prejudices in the society, now Satu is a success, and she efficiently conducts all the major activities of her project including selecting the fish fries according to the market demands, feeding the fish properly and taking necessary measures to sell the produce in her farm. She also believes that if the government takes proper steps to train more youth with loans on easy terms then many young people of the country would come up with ideas for various wage-earning activities contributing much to the country's economy and being a force in creating jobs. Currently, three persons are employed in Satu Deo's farm and she pays them 4000 taka monthly. The fish in Satu's six ponds are now worth around taka five lakh. Satu says, “Fish traders from Mymensingh and Dhaka rush to my farm when the fishes are mature”. She is hoping there will be a better profit this year if all else goes well.
Satu's father, Badal Chandra Deo commented, “observing her desire to become self-reliant, I gave her my mental and financial support. My daughter started her mission for fish culture in a small pond and through struggle in this sector she has become quite successful and as a father I am very proud.”
Satu has one brother and two sisters. Her elder brother Sagor Deo is a student of North Bengal Medical College in Sirajganj and her two younger sisters Sanpu Deo and Shawon Deo are students of Muminunnesa Govt. Women's College and Bidyamayee Govt. Girls' School respectively.
“It is a good feeling for me when people starting out in fish culture come to me for advice” said Satu Deo proudly. “I always advise them to the best of my abilities.”
Asma Anjuman Khan Tuly is associated with The Daily Star Readers Club in Mymensingh.
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